North Apollo ready to approve tax to support fire department
By Brian C. Rittmeyer
Published: Thursday, March 7, 2013, 12:01 a.m.
Updated: Friday, March 8, 2013
North Apollo Council is moving forward with plans to collect a tax to support the borough's fire department but is backing away from talk of rescinding a tax supporting the Apollo Memorial Library.
If approved, an $80 annual tax on all properties in the borough to support the North Apollo Volunteer Fire Department would be collected beginning this year, council President Gene Burns said.
Council will vote on the issue April 1, Burns said.
The tax would be the same for all properties. Council had previously considered charging businesses double, or $160. Estimates are it could raise about $52,000.
This year, the tax would be due in August or September, depending upon when the borough bills it, Burns said.
In future years, it would be billed in January and due by March.
Property owners could be assessed penalties for nonpayment and be taken before a district judge.
Council held a town hall meeting on the issue at the fire hall in February.
Firefighters went to the borough, saying their department was in danger of folding in a year.
“I know that not everybody is in support of it,” fire department Vice President Jim Barclay said. He said firefighters hope the tax is approved.
“We understand we are going to be under the microscope. We're already under the microscope. It's something we're going to have to deal with as a fire department. We understand that,” he said.
“The public will want to know where the money is going. They will be able to see that through the borough. The borough will be able to look at our books and see where the money is going.”
The borough gives the department $15,000 annually.
That will stop after this year if the tax is enacted.
However, firefighters have said they would continue their fundraising efforts.
News of the department's problems has brought larger crowds to special events, including breakfasts and fish fries, Barclay said. Bingo brought a brief bump in attendance, but that died down.
A few people have expressed interest in becoming social members of the department, Barclay said.
Library tax stays
Council is giving up plans to try to rescind a tax supporting the Apollo Memorial Library.
Council had discussed putting forward a referendum asking voters if they want to rescind the 0.75-mill tax. Voters approved the tax in referendums twice, in 2001 and 2002.
The same tax is collected for the library in Apollo, where the library is located.
Burns said council was considering rescinding the tax with the belief that the borough would have better uses for the money.
The tax generated $13,344 last year.
But Burns said council decided to leave the tax alone after learning that if the tax is rescinded, the borough would not be able to spend the money elsewhere.
The possibility of losing the tax support alarmed library leaders, who said it could threaten state funding as well.
Library supporters urged council members to keep the tax in place.
“We're relieved that the North Apollo Borough Council has reconsidered its decision regarding funding for the library and recognized the library is a community asset,” library board President Paula Mahar said.
Brian C. Rittmeyer is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-226-4701 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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